Rand mixed as market mulls stimulus plans
The rand was mixed against major global currencies on Friday afternoon, although global stock markets were generally higher, amid some optimism over easing global trade tension.
Local focus was on the announcement of the government's plans to stimulate the economy, with the rand initially reacting favourably to President Cyril Ramaphosa's raft of measures to boost growth, including the establishment of an infrastructure fund.
R400bn will be leveraged through various development finance institutions, pension funds, and through investors to drive the fund. R50bn in spending will also be re-prioritised within the budget to create jobs and increase growth, Ramaphosa said.
The rand had pared earlier gains by Friday afternoon, but was still on track to post its best weekly performance against the dollar since December 2017.
The dollar has come under pressure this week due to concerns regarding the US's long-term GDP growth outlook.
The rand had gained the most against the pound on Friday afternoon, with sterling under strain after EU officials publicly rejected UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit proposal. Analysts said the somewhat muted response by the pound indicated the lack of surprise in the market of this development.
That being said, pound weakness could be reflective of a harder line against May's "deal or no deal" approach by EU officials, said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam. "Clearly, they believe this is a bluff and haven't taken to such a stance so late in the day." May is now facing a difficult task in returning to the UK no closer to a deal than she was before.
At 3pm, the rand was at R14.3841 to the dollar from R14.2832, at R16.9138 to the euro from R16.8273 and at R18.9085 to the pound from R18.9568. The euro was at $1.1757 from $1.1777.
At the same time, the benchmark R186 government bond was bid at an unchanged 9.08% while the R207 was at 7.635% from 7.670%.